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J.K. Rowling on Who Do You Think You Are?

Published on 18 Aug 2011 09:04 : rowling who do you think you are : 1 comment : 2023 views

J.K. Rowling, or Jo, is the multi-millionaire writer of the infamous Harry Potter books. For a long time she was a single mother working as a teacher, before she changed her life when she put pen to paper and brought Harry Potter to life.

Jo explains at the beginning of the episode that she is keen to learn more about her French heritage and starts looking into the life of her great-great grandfather, Louis Volant. Amazingly Jo shares the same birthday with Louis, the birthday she also gave to Harry Potter. From stories passed down by relative's, Jo knows that Louis fought in WW1 and thinks that he was awarded the Legion d'honneur, an award she has also received as a result of the Harry Potter books.

Jo visits her aunt who tells her a little about Louis and his failed marriage to his wife Lizzie. Louis moved to London from France in the 1890's and started work in the Prince's Restaurant as a waiter. Louis met Lizzie and they soon married and had a son. Unfortunately the marriage did not work out but we do not know whether this was because of Louis's long work hours or Lizzie's reluctance to move to France. All we know is that by the 1911 census, Lizzie is the head of her household and Louis is living alone.

In 1914, Louis leaves London and returns to France to join the French army. Jo travels to France to see if she can find out more about the rumour that Louis received the Legion d'honneur award. When she arrives she is shown a record for Louis Volent, but there are discrepancies regarding birth date and it soon becomes clear that the record Jo is looking at is not that of her great-great grandfather. Although slightly disappointed, Jo continues her search - This shows how important it is to research all areas of your family history and not rely on stories passed down through generations.

Jo soon finds out that Louis, aged 37, would have been part of the Territorial Army. His job would have been to protect railways and roads from the Germans. However, although Louis was never meant to fight on the front, and only received 15 days of training, he was soon put to the test. As the Germans tried to cross the border into France and claim Paris, Louis found himself on the receiving end of shell fire. Armed only with a rifle and under constant fire, he led his men to safety whilst holding the border. Louis was injured, but also recognised for his bravery and awarded the Croix du Guerre, a much better award to receive in Jo's eyes!

With this family mystery settled, Jo decides to go further back and research her great-great-great grandmother, Louis' mother Salomee Schuch. Look out for tomorrow's blog when we reveal how Jo seems to have followed in the footsteps of a long line of single mothers who turned their lives around.


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by Carol on 18 Aug 2011 09:55 :
This one ranks among one of the best, and had special meaning for me, as I am a decendent of a French Gt Grandfather, who was a Chef and also came to England, married and had 5 children, was in the French army during WW1. I too have loving communications from him to his wife during WW1. Unlike Jo's forbear, mine stayed with his wife until his death.